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Copy of Sonnets: Petrarch, Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne

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Adam Hausman

on 3 January 2016

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Transcript of Copy of Sonnets: Petrarch, Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne

Introduction to Sonnets:
Characteristics? You tell me.
I SHALL forget you presently, my dear,
So make the most of this, your little day,
Your little month, your little half a year,
Ere I forget, or die, or move away,
And we are done forever; by and by
I shall forget you, as I said, but now,
If you entreat me with your loveliest lie
I will protest you with my favorite vow.
I would indeed that love were longer-lived,
And vows were not so brittle as they are,
But so it is, and nature has contrived
To struggle on without a break thus far,
Whether or not we find what we are seeking
Is idle, biologically speaking.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Sonnet form:
Number of lines:
Common subject matter:
Rhyme scheme:
Where does a shift occur?
History of the sonnet:
Sonnets were invented in the thirteenth century and became popular in the fourteenth century (1300-1400) by Italian poet Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374).
Petrarch (1304-1374), after briefly studying law in Bologna in 1320, decided to abandon the field, against his father’s wishes, to begin studying the classics and begin a religious life. In 1326 he took minor ecclesiastical orders and began serving under Cardinal Colonna, which allowed him to travel and write freely. His interest in Latin literature and poetry grew significantly during this time period, and he was later able to share his love for the humanities with Giovanni Boccaccio, a fellow poet and humanist.
Francesco Petrarch:
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1502–42) and Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (1517–47), are credited with introducing the Petrarchan model to England in the sixteenth century and adjusting the rhyme scheme and the meter to accommodate the English language. They, like Petrarch, use religious imagery and terms to convey the holiness and intensity of the lover’s passion for the unattainable love-object and make frequent allusions to both classical deities and Christian symbols.
Shakespeare explores the same theme in different ways (throughout his sonnets) but never exactly repeats a pattern. He is keenly aware of Petrarchan conventions and often uses them, but just as often upends them.
The sonnet form that Petrarch created came to be known as the "Italian Sonnet." Shakespeare's modifications to this form created the "English Sonnet."
Sonnet Structure:
In 1327, Petrarch attended a mass in Avignon and saw Laura de Noves, for the first time. Laura would become the primary subject of his poetry for the rest of his life.
Laura’s true identity is unknown; supposedly, she married someone else and, being ideally virtuous as well as beautiful, was permanently unavailable. There’s no evidence Petrarch ever talked to her.
His poems investigate the connection between love and chastity in the foreground of a political landscape, though many of them are also driven by emotion and sentimentality. Critic Robert Stanley Martin writes that Petrarch “reimagined the conventions of love poetry in the most profound way: love for the idealized lady was the path towards learning how to properly love God... His work has a grace that, among his predecessors, is second only to Dante’s, and it often shows a greater refinement, particularly in its development of conceits. Petrarch will often begin with a single trope and develop it into a conceit that defines the entire sonnet.”
The sonnet has proved to be a remarkably durable and adaptable form—a “fixed form” that is, paradoxically, enormously flexible. Although no one has ever equaled Shakespeare’s sonnets, nearly every notable poet writing in English has had a go at a sonnet or two. Among the best-known British writers of sonnets are John Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, W.H. Auden, and Dylan Thomas.

The form survived the transatlantic crossing. Distinguished American practitioners include Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Crowe Ransom, as well as significant African-American and Caribbean-American poets, such as James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Derek Walcott, Marilyn Nelson, and Claude McKay.

The sonnet can be a lens through which to look at poetry over the last 400 years.
Octave, Sestet,
Rhyme Scheme:
abba abba cdcdcd
Rhyme Scheme:
abab, cdcd, efef, gg
Ron Padgett, in The Handbook of Poetic Forms points out that “the sonnet involves a certain way of thinking: the setting up or development of a thought or idea which is brought to a conclusion at the end of the poem” (189). The sonnet’s hallmarks are really this “way of thinking” and its dialectical nature, not a particular rhyme scheme. In fact, many contemporary sonnets depart from rhyme and meter altogether, although they are still restricted to 14 lines.
As for meter, almost no sonnet is written entirely in iambic pentameter, which risks being boring. Variations in meter are important, not only for the ear, but also sometimes for developing the central idea or argument.
A modern introduction to Petrarch.
Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck,
Some nights I call it a draw,
Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle,
Some nights I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost,
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for
Oh, her eyes, her eyes make the stars look like they're not shining.
Her hair, her hair falls perfectly without her trying.
She's so beautiful, and I tell her everyday.

Yeah, I know when I compliment her she won't believe me.
And it's so sad to think that she doesn't see what I see.
But every time she asks me, "Do I look okay?" I say:

When I see your face there's not a thing that I would change,
Because you're amazing just the way you are.
"All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" -- from

by William Wordsworth (1802)
Preface to Lyrical Ballads
Iambic Pentameter:
"One day I wrote her name upon the strand"

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize!
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name;
Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

"Fair is my love, when her fair golden hairs"

Fair is my love, when her fair golden hairs
With the loose wind ye waving chance to mark:
Fair, when the rose in her red cheeks appears,
Or in her eyes the fire of love does spark:
Fair, when her breast, like a rich laden bark
With precious merchandise she forth doth lay:
Fair, when that cloud of pride, which oft doth dark
Her goodly light, with smiles she drives away
But fairest she, when so she doth display
The gate with pearls and rubies richly dight,
Through which her words so wise do make their way,
To bear the message of her gentle sprite.
The rest be works of nature's wonderment,
But this the work of heart's astonishment.

Note: rhyme scheme is not accurate.
A question for you to begin:

What is the best way to keep someone/something's memory alive?
Sonnets: Day 2
Attendance Question:
What is the best way to show someone you care about them?
An Introduction: Today's Plan
Sonnet 94

1 They that have power to hurt and will do none,
2 That do not do the thing they most do show,
3 Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
4 Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
5 They rightly do inherit heaven's graces
6 And husband nature's riches from expense;
7 They are the lords and owners of their faces,
8 Others but stewards of their excellence.

9 The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
10 Though to itself it only live and die,
11 But if that flower with base infection meet,
12 The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
13 For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
14 Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

1 When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
2 I all alone beweep my outcast state
3 And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
4 And look upon myself and curse my fate,

5 Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
6 Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
7 Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
8 With what I most enjoy contented least;

9 Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
10 Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
11 Like to the lark at break of day arising
12 From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

13 For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
14 That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Same author, different format?
What's the main difference besides the message?
1. Create a modern sonnet that resembles and nearly replicates the one you best understand.

2. Analyze the sonnet and paraphrase every pair of lines. Discuss the topic (overall themes and subtleties), rhyme scheme, AND the volta, octave/sestet, OR three quatrains and concluding couplet.

3. If you had to use this poem in today's world and apply it to a problem you could face in everyday life, describe the situation and then discuss how the poem would assist with handling the situation.
Within “author groups” you may choose do one of these:
The Next Step:
Reconvene in your groups and share your assignment with them.

Discuss similarities and differences you found based on the assignment you chose.

Prepare a presentation for your peers.
Be sure to include:
An explanation of the poem.
What they should look for with this author.
A discussion about the concepts that relate to us today.
Author Groups:

Petrarch 1 & 2: Zach, Maty, Kevin, Lauren, Alex, J.J., Dimitri, Wes B.

Spenser 1 & 2: Julia, Wes M.G., Christian, David, Alec W., Josh, Devin, Mariah.

Shakespeare 1 & 2: Michael B., Austin, Branson, Maggie, Dakota, Tanner, Allison, Cameron

Donne 1: Sam, John, Michael, Carolyn, Cody, Nik, Tyler.
Group Work Instructions:
1. Read the "What to look for," and the poems by your author.

2. Decide which poem makes more sense to you.
(if you are John Donne, you may split up the poem by quatrains)

3. Split your group evenly between the two poems.
(again, if Donne, split between the three quatrains).
During Presentations:
1. Annotate the poems
2. Write down any connections shared by the group or that you have made.
3. Give groups your attention
Porcine Bludgeon

Dulcet Milieu

Reminisce Histrionic

Opportune Beleaguer

Arduous Quixotic
LXII. Padre del ciel; dopo i perduti giorni Father in heaven, lo! these wasted daysAnd all these nights in vain imaginings spent,My thoughts enkindled to one maddening blaze,On one alluring presence all intent!May't please Thee now that by Thy light I bendMy life to better things--some worthier aim--And that my foe his snares in vain extend,And at his bootless wiles be filled with shame.'Tis now, O Lord, the eleventh circling yearSince I am fettered by this pitiless chainWhich to the weak is ever most severe;Have mercy on my undeserved pain!Guide Thou my wandering thoughts some better way,Remind them Thou wast on the cross to-day!
Gli Occhi Di Ch' Io Parlai Those eyes, 'neath which my passionate rapture rose, The arms, hands, feet, the beauty that erewhile Could my own soul from its own self beguile, And in a separate world of dreams enclose, The hair's bright tresses, full of golden glows, And the soft lightning of the angelic smile That changed this earth to some celestial isle, Are now but dust, poor dust, that nothing knows. And yet I live! Myself I grieve and scorn, Left dark without the light I loved in vain, Adrift in tempest on a bark forlorn; Dead is the source of all my amorous strain, Dry is the channel of my thoughts outworn, And my sad harp can sound but notes of pain.
Fair is my love, when her fair golden hairs With the loose wind ye waving chance to mark: Fair, when the rose in her red cheeks appears, Or in her eyes the fire of love does spark: Fair, when her breast, like a rich laden bark With precious merchandise she forth doth lay: Fair, when that cloud of pride, which oft doth dark Her goodly light, with smiles she drives away But fairest she, when so she doth display The gate with pearls and rubies richly dight, Through which her words so wise do make their way, To bear the message of her gentle sprite. The rest be works of nature's wonderment, But this the work of heart's astonishment. (end)
Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Sonnet 130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
John Donne:
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Attendance Question:
What is one thing that you've learned in this class so far that you will take with you in future years?
Sonnet Test Next Class:
Questions about:
Form, rhyme scheme, number of lines, etc.
Essay: Argue which sonneteer most clearly depicts Wordsworth's phrase: "All good poetry is a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." No less than 3 paragraphs.
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